Monday, November 26th, 2018


Gold Crush

"The reason the situation has gotten worse is simple enough to understand, even if it defies easy solution: A toxic combo of slow wage growth and skyrocketing rents has put housing out of reach for a greater number of people." If you live in one of America's richest cities, the reality of that quote is plainly visible. These are the sharply contrasting fortunes of families living in places where the streets are paved in gold, but covered by tents. Bloomberg: The Homeless Crisis Is Getting Worse in America's Richest Cities.

+ The Bay Area is ground zero for this growing divide. Here's the latest example of the problem from The Mercury News: Silicon Valley wages have dropped for all except highest-paying jobs. "Nine out of every 10 Silicon Valley jobs pays less now than when Netflix first launched in 1997, despite one of the nation's strongest economic booms and a historically low unemployment rate that outpaces the national average."


Monopoly Money

"This is an effort to really introduce the fact that you go to the store, you see all of these brands, but guess what? They're all being operated by the same companies." Vox: America's monopoly problem, in one chart.

+ "The new corporate behemoths have been very good for their executives and largest shareholders — and bad for almost everyone else." David Leonhardt in the NYT: The Monopolization of America. (This topic will be one of the biggest issues covered in 2019...)


Bleak Friday

"Earth's climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities ... The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid." The report was unexpectedly released on Black Friday when you were distracted by shopping (or avoiding the malls). It indicates that climate change will shrink US economy and kill thousands. And "not a single G20 country is meeting climate targets." (Although, the leadership of most of those countries acknowledge the threat.)

+ "It's there by the millions of tons under the ground. Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it. Coal plants can be a surefire way for politicians to deliver cheap electricity — and retain their own power. In some countries, it has been a glistening source of graft." NYT: The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?

+ "Western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences." ProPublica and the NYT: Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe.

+ "The technique would involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth's lower stratosphere at altitudes as high as 12 miles. The scientists propose delivering the sulfates with specially designed high-altitude aircraft, balloons or large naval-style guns." A possible answer to climate change: Dimming the Sun. (That rumbling sound you hear in the distance is the Sun laughing...)


Mace Invaders

Customs and Border Protection "said its officers deployed the tear gas and pepper balls after some members of the group threw objects, including rocks, at agents while others tried to enter the United States illegally." A broken immigration policy gets even worse as migrants are teargassed at the border.

+ "BuzzFeed News gave six kids cameras to show what the world looks like to them." This Is What The World Looks Like For Kids Traveling In The Caravan.

+ "Many of them ask what will happen to them once they reach the border. I'm always surprised when they haven't heard about detention centers and family separation." The Guardian: This is what Trump's caravan 'invasion' really looks like.

+ The family separations started earlier and were worse than previously reported. 60 Minutes on the chaos behind Donald Trump's policy of family separation at the border.


Strait Shooters

"In the name of international peace and security, Russia must immediately cease its unlawful conduct and respect the navigational rights and freedoms of all states." So said Nikki Haley as she called Russia's seizure of Ukrainian ships an "outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory."

+ AP Explains: Russia-Ukraine dispute raises new tensions. "The latest area of rising tension occurred Sunday in the Kerch Strait."


Motor Cycles

"GM is still hiring people with expertise in software and electric and autonomous vehicles. Many of those who will lose jobs are now working on conventional cars with internal combustion engines." GM announces plans to shut factories and slash up to 14,000 jobs in North America.


The Bard of Card

"Magician, actor and historian of oddball entertainers," Ricky Jay died at the age of 72. Almost immediately, people began sharing what many called their favorite New Yorker article ever. It's easy to see why. Mark Singer's piece is aces. Secrets of the Magus.


Juuls Rush In

"Look, smoking hasn't evolved in 100 years. It's killing millions of people. We're smokers. We're at risk of suffering the same fate, and we want to work on this: How do you create a new ritual to replace the old one?" FastCo: How Juul, founded on a life-saving mission, became the most embattled startup of 2018. (We'll start with the company's $16 billion valuation and work back from there...)

+ Bloomberg: Vegas Is Now Home to the ‘World's Biggest' Weed Store. Of Course It Is. (Maybe cannabis legalization is really a plot to take all the cool out of smoking weed...)


Into the Woods

"Over 18 hours, he walked an estimated 14 to 20 miles out of the mountains and into the sparsely populated Wallowa Valley. During that journey he fell into a river, climbed a tree to escape two terrifying coyotes, and hid from a passing car because—as he recalls it—his reptile brain had taken over. He was cold and exhausted, and he developed acute tendonitis in his ankles that put him on crutches for a week. But he saved himself." Outside: How a 6-Year-Old Survived Being Lost in the Woods. (My kids would be hard-pressed to survive for a few hours without WiFi...)


Bottom of the News

"In essence, the bacteria poop a little indestructible condominium in your pipes, built of hard-to-break-down complex carbohydrates. But when the pressure is high enough, these species are let loose into the fine aerosol spray of water droplets pelting our hair and bodies and splashing up and into our noses and mouths." The Bacteria Lurking in American Showerheads.

+ Nat Geo's best photos of 2018.

+ Pet owners who force their cats to be vegan could risk breaking the law. (I didn't see any part of that headline coming...)

+ Every day is Cyber Monday if you use the new Price Wise Firefox tool from my fearless sponsors at Mozilla. I tested it over the weekend and it worked like a charm.

+ And since you're out shopping, the NextDraft shirts, hats, and stickers are ready to ship.